Site Talk forum: Database suggestion: plant diseases

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Name: Alastair
Maryland (Zone 7a)
FullyWashable
Jun 16, 2019 7:56 AM CST
Hi! I would like to suggest that we start a photo database of plant diseases and other damage. In my recent struggles with viruses in my garden, I've found it very difficult to find good photos of diseases on ornamental plants. The majority of plant disease photos online are for agriculture, not horticulture, and the ones I could find were often low-quality photos. When I posted here for help, irises which turned out to be infected with potyvirus were pronounced healthy, so I suspect a lot of gardeners do not have a means to recognize anything but the most common plant diseases. I also think it would likely be a boon to extension agents and other professionals, since the available resources are very limited.
The database entry would need to be able to accommodate both the plant host name and a disease--either an organism or problem like nutrient deficiency or insect damage.
Just an idea for consideration!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jun 16, 2019 8:44 AM CST
Did the lab tell you which it was of the several Potyviruses that can affect iris?

The problem with a diseases database that would be useful for professionals and extension agents is that contributors here are just as likely to be home gardeners and there would be no guarantee of accuracy, although some diseases are more obvious than others.
Name: Alastair
Maryland (Zone 7a)
FullyWashable
Jun 18, 2019 10:36 AM CST
I did not pursue the specific potyvirus. I tested via Immunostrip, and the potyvirus family is cross-reactive, so you know just that it is some potyvirus, but not the particular one. The majority of potyviruses that infect iris have similar, limited host ranges: iris, narcissus, crocus, allium, tulip, and nerine, and I was mostly concerned with determining what else in my garden might be infected. I also tested for the other likely viral agents in iris and in my personal garden: tomato spotted wilt, cucumber mosaic, tobacco ringspot, and tomato ringspot, all of which were negative.
I had an unidentified but more promiscuous virus infection in the garden last season, before I knew anything about plant viruses. I lost hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars worth of plants, and years of work and growth. I was devastated, of course, and I've got hygenic paranoia in the garden now, but also I was very surprised by how difficult it was to find good instructive information and photos online about anything but the very most common diseases, even going right back to original scientific articles. If you want to know about black spot on roses, you're set, but if you want help figuring out the strange yellowing pattern, its slow going!
I was also very surprised to find there is no up-to-date plant virus database for cross indexing viruses and hosts. I'm a medical librarian, so I'm used to such things always having a curated database. It really brought home the difference in funding between biomedical research and ag/horticulture.
I'm a home gardener myself, but a citizen science enthusiast. I figured at least some of us have formal testing performed by our extensions or using tests like Immunostrips--I know the latter have become fairly common among orchid enthusiasts. You could add an element to the entry along the lines of "suspected" or "confirmed via <method>." It would likely be a small contributing group compared to the joyful abundance of healthy plant photographs here! But because there is so very little at the moment, it seemed to me that even a small effort might be useful. But it's also possible it would just be me, valiantly cataloging every little spot on my plants, lol! I thought it would be worth suggesting to see if the idea seemed to generate any interest.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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Australis
Jun 18, 2019 3:12 PM CST

Plants Admin

FullyWashable said:It would likely be a small contributing group compared to the joyful abundance of healthy plant photographs here! But because there is so very little at the moment, it seemed to me that even a small effort might be useful. But it's also possible it would just be me, valiantly cataloging every little spot on my plants, lol! I thought it would be worth suggesting to see if the idea seemed to generate any interest.


It wouldn't just be you. I would contribute as well, as I get my Orchids tested. You can see some of my photos here: The thread "Cymbidium Leaf Markings" in Orchid Insect and Disease Control-Part 1
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Jun 22, 2019 2:41 PM CST
This sounds like a really useful idea.
I wonder if it could be incorporated into the plant database entries? Maybe something like a link to an article with photos of a particular virus/disease like potyviruses. Something like the way parentage links are provided in may database entries?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
Image
sooby
Jun 22, 2019 3:36 PM CST
The forum thread below was set up to be a "mini-database" for plant diseases:

The thread "Disease" in Pests and Diseases forum

This next thread in the Site Talk forum discusses the idea of a database and why the above was started:

The thread "Insects and Disease" in Site Talk forum

The only way to definitely identify most viruses is by testing, for most people that would mean a lab test, and expense, and I think from past experience most home gardeners are unlikely to do that for most diseases whether caused by viruses or not. The majority of plant diseases are actually caused by fungi, and then there are lookalike problems that are not actually caused by a pathogen. But see Dave's answer to the database idea in the second thread above, although that was six years ago.
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
Australis
Jun 23, 2019 3:37 AM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks for pointing out those threads, Sue. I hadn't found those yet.

In that case, @FullyWashable, I suggest we make the mosaic virus thread you started in the Iris forum the thread for Iris viruses and put a link to it in the sticky The thread "Disease" in Pests and Diseases forum. That way we can try to keep all the Iris-related virus issues in one thread that will hopefully not be too hard to find.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Alastair
Maryland (Zone 7a)
FullyWashable
Jun 24, 2019 4:05 PM CST
That sounds like a reasonable idea to me. I'm interested if we beat the drum for people to post pictures of confirmed cases of diseases if that would boost the participation in the disease forum with examples. It seems like it's mostly people asking "what is this?" when it would be helpful to have more of "here's what this is!"
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
Australis
Jun 24, 2019 9:35 PM CST

Plants Admin

I don't know how many will post photos of confirmed infections, but once I get around to having a few plants tested, I will update the Iris thread with photos as well. I agree that having photos of confirmed infections helps a great deal, which is why I went to the effort of posting all that info on Cymbidium leaf markings.
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.

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